Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Obscurity

"Obscurity and innocence, twin sisters, escape temptations which would pierce their gossamer armor in contact with the world." -

"In the hour of death the only adequate consolation is that one has not evaded life, but has endured it. What a man shall accomplish or not accomplish, does not lie in his power to decide; he is not the One who will guide the world; he has only to obey... The point consists precisely in loving his neighbor, or, what is essentially the same thing, in living equally for every man. Every other point of view is a contentious one, however advantageous and comfortable and apparently significant this position may be... yet in the hour of death, he will confidently dare say to his soul: “I have done my best; whether I have accomplished anything, I do not know; whether I have helped anyone, I do not know; but that I have lived for them, that I do know, and I know it from the fact that they insulted me. And this is my consolation, that I shall not have to take the secret with me to the grave, that I, in order to have good and undisturbed and comfortable days in life, have denied my kinship to other men, kinship with the poor, in order to live in aristocratic seclusion, or with the distinguished, in order to live in secret obscurity." - Søren Kierkegaard, fully Søren Aabye Kierkegaard

"Propriety of thought and propriety of diction are commonly found together. Obscurity and affection are the two great faults of style. Obscurity of expression generally springs from confusion of ideas; and the same wish to dazzle, at any cost, which produces affection in the manner of a writer, is likely to produce sophistry in his reasoning." -

"All man’s efforts, all his impulses to life, are only efforts to increase freedom. Wealth and poverty, fame and obscurity, power and subordination, strength and weakness, health and disease, culture and ignorance, work and leisure, repletion and hunger, virtue and vice, are only greater or lesser degrees of freedom." -

"Obscurity and a competence - that is the life that is best worth living." - Mark Twain, pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens

"Obscurity and affection are the two great faults of style. Obscurity of expression generally springs from confusion of ideas; and the same wish to dazzle, at any cost, which produces affection in the manner of a writer, is likely to produce sophistry in his reasoning." -

"The Lord’s Prayer, for a succession of solemn thoughts, for fixing the attention upon a few great points, for suitableness to every condition, for sufficiency, for conciseness without obscurity, for the weight and real importance of its petition, is without an equal or a rival." - William Paley, Archdeacon of Saragossa

"The glory of ancestors sheds a light around posterity; it allows neither their good nor bad qualities to remain in obscurity." -

"The lowest people are generally the first to find fault with show or equipage; especially that of a person lately emerged from his obscurity. They never once consider that he is breaking the ice for themselves." - William Shenstone

"Obscurity is the realm of error." -

"The certitude of laws is an obscurity of judgment backed only by authority." - Giovanni Battista Pergolesi

"Guide us to the topmost height of mystic love where the simple absolute and unchangeable mysteries of heavenly truth lie hidden in the dazzling obscurity of the Secret Silence." - Dionysius the Areopagite, aka Saint Dionysius the Areopagite NULL

"The simple, absolute, and unchangeable mysteries of heavenly Truth lie hidden in the dazzling obscurity of the secret Silence, outshining all brilliance with the intensity of their darkness." - Dionysius the Areopagite, aka Saint Dionysius the Areopagite NULL

"Truth, not in distinct and clear-cut definitions but in the limpid obscurity of a single intuition that unites all dogmas in one simple Light, shining into the soul directly from God’s eternity, without the medium of created concept, without the intervention of symbols or of language or the likeness of material things. Here the Truth is One Whom we not only know and possess but by Whom we are known and possessed. Here theology ceases to be a body of abstractions and becomes a Living Reality Who is God Himself." - Thomas Merton

"Dread not events unknown, and be not downhearted, for the fountain of the water of life is involved in obscurity." -

"The wisdom of God says, “I alone can make you understand who you are.” God has willed to make Himself quite recognizable to those who seek Him with all their heart, and to be hidden from those who flee from Him with all their heart. There is enough light for those who only desire to see, and enough obscurity for those who have a contrary disposition." - Blaise Pascal

"The simple, absolute and immutable mysteries of divine Truth are hidden in the super-luminous darkness of that silence which revealeth in secret. For this darkness, though of deepest obscurity, is yet radiantly clear; and, though beyond touch and sight, it more than fills our unseeing minds with splendours of transcendent beauty." - Dionysius of Halicarnassus NULL

"Poetry, with all its obscurity, has a more general as well as a more powerful dominion over the passions that the art of painting." - Edmund Burke

"Truth is like the stars; it does not appear except from behind obscurity of the night. Truth is like all beautiful things in the world; it does not disclose its desirability except to those who first feel the influence of falsehood. Truth is a deep kindness that teaches us to be content in our everyday life and share with the people the same happiness." - Kahlil Gibran

"Purity Is obscurity." - Ogden Nash

"Little people easily find safety in obscurity." -

"Nothing is comparable to the pleasure of an active and prevailing thought - a thought prevailing over the difficulty and obscurity of the object, and refreshing the soul with new discoveries and images of things; and thereby extending the bounds of apprehension, and as it were enlarging the territories of reason." -

"Characteristically, major social movements are spawned in obscurity at the periphery of public awareness, seem to burst suddenly and dramatically into public view, and eventually fade into the landscape not because they have diminished but because they have become a permanent part of our perceptions and experience" - Freda Adler

"Characteristically, major social movements are spawned in obscurity at the periphery of public awareness, seem to burst suddenly and dramatically into public view, and eventually fade into the landscape not because they have diminished but because they have become a permanent part of our perceptions and experience." - Freda Adler

"Thus the truth—that his life should be directed by the spiritual element which is its basis, which manifests itself as love, and which is so natural to man—this truth, in order to force a way to man’s consciousness, had to struggle not merely against the obscurity with which it was expressed and the intentional and unintentional distortions surrounding it, but also against deliberate violence, which by means of persecutions and punishments sought to compel men to accept religious laws authorized by the rulers and conflicting with the truth." - Leo Tolstoy, aka Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy or Tolstoi

"What we have not had to decipher, to elucidate by our own efforts, what was clear before we looked at it, is not ours. From ourselves comes only that which we drag forth from the obscurity which lies within us, that which to others is unknown." - Marcel Proust, fully Valentin Louis Georges Eugène Marcel Proust

"Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever. " - Napoleon Bonaparte, Napoleon I

"Our form of government does not enter into rivalry with the institutions of others. We do not copy our neighbors, but are an example to them. It is true that we are called a democracy, for the administration is in the hands of the many and not of the few. But while the laws secure equal justice to all alike in their private disputes, the claim of excellence is also recognized; and when a citizen is in any way distinguished he is preferred to the public service, not as a matter of privilege, but as the reward of merit. "Neither is poverty a bar, for a man may benefit his country whatever be the obscurity of his conditions. There is no exclusiveness in our public life, and in our private intercourses we are not suspicious of one another, nor angry with our neighbor if he does what he likes; we do not give him sour looks which, though harmless, are not pleasant." - Pericles NULL

"The obscurity of a writer is generally in proportion to his incapacity." - Quintilian, fully Marcus Fabius Quintilianus, also Quintillian and Quinctilian NULL

"The soul languishing in obscurity contracts a kind of rust, or abandons itself to the chimera of presumption; for it is natural for it to acquire something, even when separated from any one." - Quintilian, fully Marcus Fabius Quintilianus, also Quintillian and Quinctilian NULL

"All of us want to see the details of any legislative plan if there’s going to be a legislative response, but Congress, I believe, is in the mood to do whatever it takes to win this war against terrorism." - Rupert Sheldrake, fully Alfred Rupert Sheldrake

"Contradictions have always existed in the soul of [individuals]. But it is only when we prefer analysis to silence that they become a constant and insoluble problem. We are not meant to resolve all contradictions but to live with them and rise above them and see them in the light of exterior and objective values which make them trivial by comparison." - Thomas Merton

"But when the country, into which I had just set my foot, was set on fire about my ears, it was time to stir. It was time for every man to stir." - Thomas Paine

"The Bible is a book that has been read more and examined less than any book that ever existed." - Thomas Paine

"As there are some flowers which you should smell but slightly to extract all that is pleasant in them, and which, if you do otherwise, emit what is unpleasant and noxious, so there are some men with whom a slight acquaintance is quite sufficient to draw out all that is agreeable; a more intimate one would be unsatisfactory and unsafe." - Walter Savage Landor

"Much protest is naive; it expects quick, visible improvement and despairs and gives up when such improvement does not come. Protesters who hold out for longer have perhaps understood that success is not the proper goal. If protest depended on success, there would be little protest of any durability or significance. History simply affords too little evidence that anyone’s individual protest is of any use. Protest that endures, I think, is moved by a hope far more modest than that of public success: namely, the hope of preserving qualities in one’s own heart and spirit that would be destroyed by acquiescence." - Wendell Berry

"Behind the corpse in the reservoir, behind the ghost on the links, behind the lady who dances and the man who madly drinks, under the look of fatigue, the attack of migraine and the sigh there is always another story, there is more than meets the eye." - W. H. Auden, fully Wystan Hugh Auden

"Mrs. Ramsey, who had been sitting loosely, folded her son in her arm, braced herself, and, half turning, seemed to raise herself with an effort, and at once to pour erect into the air a rain of energy, a column of spray, looking at the same time animated and alive as if all her energies were being fused into force, burning and illuminating (quietly though she sat, taking up her stocking again), and into this delicious fecundity, this fountain and spray of life, the fatal sterility of the male plunged itself, like a beak of brass, barren and bare." - Virginia Woolf, nee Stephen, fully Adeline Virginia Woolf

"Who can measure the heat and violence of the heart of a poet when he is caught and trapped in a woman's body?" - Virginia Woolf, nee Stephen, fully Adeline Virginia Woolf

"Peace is an armistice in a war that is continuously going on." - Thucydides NULL

"Responsibility's like a string we can only see the middle of. Both ends are out of sight." - William (Morley Punshon) McFee

"Therein does the conscious Self (purusha) experience pain caused by decay and death, until dissociation from the subtle body; thus suffering is in the very nature of things." - Ishvarakrishna, aka Iśvarakṛṣṇa NULL

"The conscious discovery by you that you have this Power within you, and your determination to make use of it, is the birth of the child. And it is easy to see how very apt the symbol is, for the infant that is born in consciousness is just such a weak, feeble entity as any new-born child, and it calls for the same careful nursing and guarding that any infant does in its earliest days. After a time, however, as the weeks go by, the child grows stronger and bigger, until a time comes when it can well take care of itself; and then it grows and grows in wisdom and stature until, no longer leaning on the mother’s care, the child, now arrived at man’s estate, turns the tables, and repays its debt by taking over the care of its mother. So your ability to contact the mystic Power within yourself, frail and feeble at first, will gradually develop until you find yourself permitting that Power to take your whole life into its care." - Emmet Fox

"Obscurity and innocence, twin sisters, escape temptations which would pierce their gossamer armor in contact with the world." -

"In the hour of death the only adequate consolation is that one has not evaded life, but has endured it. What a man shall accomplish or not accomplish, does not lie in his power to decide; he is not the One who will guide the world; he has only to obey... The point consists precisely in loving his neighbor, or, what is essentially the same thing, in living equally for every man. Every other point of view is a contentious one, however advantageous and comfortable and apparently significant this position may be... yet in the hour of death, he will confidently dare say to his soul: “I have done my best; whether I have accomplished anything, I do not know; whether I have helped anyone, I do not know; but that I have lived for them, that I do know, and I know it from the fact that they insulted me. And this is my consolation, that I shall not have to take the secret with me to the grave, that I, in order to have good and undisturbed and comfortable days in life, have denied my kinship to other men, kinship with the poor, in order to live in aristocratic seclusion, or with the distinguished, in order to live in secret obscurity." - Søren Kierkegaard, fully Søren Aabye Kierkegaard

"Propriety of thought and propriety of diction are commonly found together. Obscurity and affection are the two great faults of style. Obscurity of expression generally springs from confusion of ideas; and the same wish to dazzle, at any cost, which produces affection in the manner of a writer, is likely to produce sophistry in his reasoning." -

"All man’s efforts, all his impulses to life, are only efforts to increase freedom. Wealth and poverty, fame and obscurity, power and subordination, strength and weakness, health and disease, culture and ignorance, work and leisure, repletion and hunger, virtue and vice, are only greater or lesser degrees of freedom." -

"Obscurity and a competence - that is the life that is best worth living." - Mark Twain, pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens